On Saturday, 22 February, General Church Council (GCC) members were practising what they are preaching when they had a go at ‘doing dialogue’ themselves.
They spent the day at Concordia College in Adelaide learning how to engage in healthy conversation on a controversial issue—and then actually doing it. Their topic was the LCA’s teaching which prevents the ordination of women.
In order to extend the learning experience to a wider audience, parts of the day’s activities were filmed by Concordia College students, under the direction of their teacher David Modra, Head of Media Studies.
The workshop was led by the LCA Ordination Dialogue Group, whose five members (all pastors) represent differing views about the ordination of women. Among other things, the team has developed a set of five principles and some reflection questions that support respectful dialogue (available on the Ordination. We’re Listening. webpage www.lca.org.au/ordination-were-listening.html). These guidelines undergirded the conversations about the ordination of women that GCC members held in small groups.
‘It is important that our bishops and other church leaders experience first-hand and gain a “feel” for the dialogue process’, LCA Bishop Rev John Henderson said. ‘We need to do ourselves what delegates will be doing at the 2015 General Convention, and what we expect congregations to be doing also. We want to set an example of how to engage in respectful listening and speaking.
‘This is not a case of trying to argue the other into our corner or, worse, seeing the other as the enemy. Rather, we are brothers and sisters working through a difficult issue as a family. We are in this together, whether we like it or not, and we will work it out together, so long as we continue to love, honour and respect each other.
‘I am so pleased to see our bishops and GCC members modelling those attitudes, leading our church by example.’
Short films from the workshop, being produced by LCA Communications in conjunction with Concordia College staff and students, will soon be available for use by congregations and agencies. Announcements of their release will be made via LCA eNews (to sign up, go to www.lca.org.au/enews).